The Weird Thing About Grief


Message Title: The Weird Thing About Grief
Theme: Reruns & Glory Days
Season: Ordinary
Main Text: 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:7-15
RCL Scripture: 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27; Lamentations 3:22-33; Psalm 130; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43
Focus: David grieves two deaths.
Function: To talk about our interaction with death and grief while considering tools for grief.
Other Notes:
Blessed Be the Tie: “Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above

SCRIPTURE READING: 2 Corinthians 8:7-15 Be the best in this work of grace in the same way that you are the best in everything, such as faith, speech, knowledge, total commitment, and the love we inspired in you. I’m not giving an order, but by mentioning the commitment of others, I’m trying to prove the authenticity of your love also. You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Although he was rich, he became poor for your sakes, so that you could become rich through his poverty. 10 I’m giving you my opinion about this. It’s to your advantage to do this, since you not only started to do it last year but you wanted to do it too. 11 Now finish the job as well so that you finish it with as much enthusiasm as you started, given what you can afford. 12 A gift is appreciated because of what a person can afford, not because of what that person can’t afford, if it’s apparent that it’s done willingly. 13 It isn’t that we want others to have financial ease and you financial difficulties, but it’s a matter of equality. 14 At the present moment, your surplus can fill their deficit so that in the future their surplus can fill your deficit. In this way there is equality. 15 As it is written, The one who gathered more didn’t have too much, and the one who gathered less didn’t have too little.[b]

RERUNS: TV shows & Death

  1. Tv shows have a difficult job of incorporating real life into their stories. Sometimes story telling is about joy, new life, new beginnings, and hope. Sometimes story telling is about loss, grief, and hopelessness.
  2. This week I asked on Facebook what tv shows had an episode about loss or death that hit you hard.
    1. Some of your answers included: Dallas, Grey’s anatomy, Downton Abbey, Bones, …….
      1. Both Grey’s Anatomy and Game of Thrones have enough death for every other show combined.
    2. One of my answers was Avatar: the Last Air Bender
      1. A character named Uncle Iro has a story about loss that tears you to the core.
    3. The other answer would be from Glee
      1. After the unexpected death of actor Cory Monteith, the writers of Glee had to figure out how to tell that story. In real life, Cory was dating one of his costars and she, while grieving her boyfriend, had to perform on the show. That hit viewers “in all the feels” as you’re sure some of her genuine feelings were part of her character’s portrayal.

TRANSITION: Our story tellers don’t have it easy. Portraying death or grief is never fun. We get uncomfortable. We feel emotions we don’t normally feel. Sometimes we say stupid things or try to rewrite the past to comfort ourselves.

In our text today, David is going to get news that hits him hard. His response reminds me of the human experience. As we read this text, let’s listen to the humanity in the words. And perhaps see moments of tiny grief bandages covering his prose.

  1. Last week on Israel-
    1. We saw Saul tried to kill David. David made connections, allies, and relationships that paved the way to his kingship.
  2. What We Missed! Between texts
    1. 19-20: Saul tries to kill David. David gets married to wife #1 Michal.
    2. 21- 23: Saul tries to kill David. Saul kills people helped him. David continues to be faithful to Saul.
    3. 24-26: David spares Saul’s life. Saul likes David again. Samuel dies. David gets wife #2 Abigail. Saul chases David again.
    4. 27-29: David runs away to Philistine territory. David & his soldiers camp with the Philistine army. Saul consults with a ‘fortune teller’ or ‘medium.’ Saul learns his end is coming.
    5. 30-31: Amalekites raid a city and take David’s 2 wives captive. David conquered that group and got his wives back. His soldiers shared the spoils of war. Philistines killed Saul’s 3 sons (including Jonathan). Saul was wounded, he ‘fell on his sword’ so that the philistines couldn’t torture him. 

MAIN TEXT: 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27 After Saul’s death, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, he stayed in Ziklag two days.17Then David sang this funeral songfor Saul and his son Jonathan. 18David ordered everyone in Judah to learn the Song of the Bow.(In fact, it is written in the scroll from Jashar.) 19Oh, no, Israel! Your prince lies dead on your heights. Look how the mighty warriors have fallen! 20Don’t talk about it in Gath; don’t bring news of it to Ashkelon’s streets, or else the Philistines’ daughters will rejoice; the daughters of the uncircumcised will celebrate. 21You hills of Gilboa! Let there be no dew or rain on you, and no fields yielding grain offerings. Because it was there that the mighty warrior’s[g] shield was defiled—the shield of Saul!—never again anointed with oil. 22Jonathan’s bow never wavered from the blood of the slain, from the gore of the warriors. Never did Saul’s sword return empty. 23Saul and Jonathan! So well loved, so dearly cherished! In their lives and in their deaths they were never separated. They were faster than eagles, stronger than lions! 24Daughters of Israel, weep over Saul! He dressed you in crimson with jewels; he decorated your clothes with gold jewelry. 25Look how the mighty warriors have fallen in the midst of battle! Jonathan lies dead on your heights. 26I grieve for you, my brother Jonathan! You were so dear to me! Your love was more amazing to methan the love of women. 27Look how the mighty warriors have fallen! Look how the weapons of war have been destroyed!

EXPLAINATION: David laments the death of Saul and Jonathan.

  1. David learns of the death of Saul & Jonathan. If you keep reading there are TONS more details. Including the question if Saul killed himself or was killed.
  2. David responds with a poem, a song, of lament. (Saul & Jonathan weren’t the only ones that died that day… but they were the only ones mentioned in the song).


  1. If you notice David’s song, you’ll notice that he doesn’t remember Saul completely.
    1. He notes the relationship between Saul & Jonathan.
    2. He notes how Saul provided for his country.
  2. His grief shines through
    1. ‘don’t talk about it’ – they’ll rub it in our faces
    2. Then he laments specifically the loss of Jonathan. His love for Jonathan surpassed that of a woman. (… remember… he’s got 2 wives…)
  3. We do weird things to deal with grief.
    1. We talked last week about God redeeming any story. Here, it seems David, has changed the story or forgotten the story as an act of honoring the deceased.
  4. At funerals we seem to do this same thing. We gloss over the lives of our deceased loved one. In that moment, at least for the funeral, we forgive their faults and remember their celebrations.
    1. David’s actions in lamenting Saul match our current day human struggles with grief.
    2. It also seems like David’s love for Jonathan tempers his feelings about Saul. As scripture says, David loved Saul more than he loved women.
  5. Seminary Class- Death, Loss, & Mourning- when I was in seminary, I took a class called “Death, Loss, & Mourning.” Yes. It was exactly what you picture. We visited funeral homes. Talked about different forms of loss. And we read a lot of books about the ways different cultures deal with loss.
    1. Assignment- Loss Chart- one particularly difficult assignment was a loss inventory.
      1. all types of loss: break ups, job changes, moves, deaths, loss of innocence, etc
      2. at the time of the assignment- I was 29 and had experienced 22 family deaths. I was very familiar with death.

APPLICATION: To talk about our interaction with death and grief while considering tools for grief.

  1. The Ball & Box analogy: Grief can hit us in unexpected ways and manifest in unusual forms. One of the best ways to understand the human interaction with loss is an analogy called The Ball and The Box. This comes from a twitter thread by @LaurenHerschel Dec 29, 2017
    1. “So grief is like this: There’s a box with a ball in it. And a pain button. And no, I am not known for my art skills.”
    1. “In the beginning, the ball is huge. You can’t move the box without the ball hitting the pain button. It rattles around on its own in there and hits the button over and over. You can’t control it – it just keeps hurting. Sometimes it seems unrelenting.”
    2. “Over time, the ball gets smaller. It hits the button less and less but when it does, it hurts just as much. It’s better because you can function day to day more easily. But the downside is that the ball randomly hits that button when you least expect it.”
    3. I found this explanation of grief so helpful.
  2. We’re allowed to grieve. We’re allowed to feel. Healing doesn’t mean that you will never feel pain again about that loss.
    1. Sometimes grief takes us on a weird journey.
    1. God is not expecting you to be ok in your grief. God is not telling you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. You have permission to feel and to grieve.


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